Moose McClintock

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Moose McClintock: Honoring a Legend

Story and photos by Joe Berkeley
Moose McClintock was agitated. As the Newport (RI) Laser Fleet’s regular race committee, Moose was told the powerboat his volunteer used to move marks was broken so he would have to make do with a nine-foot inflatable that in his words, “would barely fit a mark in it.” Then smart sailors at the skipper’s meeting were asking stupid questions, like when world champion Peter Shope queried, “Moose, what’s a triangle course?”
IMG_8699But the big reveal came when fleet co-captain Jack McVicker pulled up behind Moose towing the new rigid bottom inflatable, that was donated to Sail Newport by Laser Fleet 413 and named “Moose” as a tribute to one of Newport’s greatest sailors, mentors, and race committee members.
Moose McClintock knows his way around a race course. He has won six J24 World Championships, three J24 North American Championships, three J24 National Championships, a J-22 world championships, a Swan World Championship, and competed in several America’s Cups. This list goes on and on.
But if the man with the gruff exterior has a soft spot in his heart for one boat, it is the least expensive and most competitive, the Laser. Moose said, “I’m part of the Laser generation. It’s the greatest boat of all time. I remember the first race of the first Laser world championships in 1974. I rounded the first mark in first place and there were 100 boats behind me.”
Dave Moffet, who has been with fleet 413 since the beginning, said, “Moose has a sailing record, both professional and amateur, matched by few in the world but on Sunday afternoons in the middle of winter that didn’t matter. What mattered is that as a competitor he was always out there raising the game for the rest of us. Moose now continues to raise our game by running the best RC and pushing us to do one more race when we can no longer feel our hands.”
Stuart Streuli, a fleet 413 member concurred. He said, “Moose was a longtime fleet regular when I started frostbiting more than a decade ago. He was one of the guys that helped define the fleet’s great blend of competitive fire and camaraderie, and he was always willing to help out newer fleet members. When he started sailing less and doing more race committee more (due to a back injury), he brought that same passion to the signal boat and raised the bar for how the fleet runs its races.”
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Fleet 413 member Ed Adams, the two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and former Laser Master world champion, noted that for many years, Moose was the strongest person he had ever met. He remembers meeting Moose at URI when he was a freshman. He said, “At my first practice at URI, I made the mistake of trying to cut inside Moose at the leeward mark, after he had told me not to try. He reached out with his left hand, grabbed my bow, stood up in his boat, and actually lifted my entire boat into the air, flipping it bow over stern, on top of me. I steered clear of him the rest of my freshman year.”
Moose has a passion for sailing. Ken Legler, who was on the URI sailing team with Moose said, “I remember when Moose and his roommate challenged each other to a flaming shots contest one weekday morning. His roommate, all of 150 pounds, passed out but not Moose. My roommate, Jay, and I tried to get to practice without him but he lied down on the hood of the car so we had no choice. He rigged and launched his Beverly Dinghy, immediately half swamped it, and pin balled off every moored boat on Salt Pond on the way to the race course for another memorable day of practicing with Moose.”
Brad Read, the executive director of Sail Newport, who won a J/24 world championship with Moose onboard, said, “I’ve always looked up to him as a mentor. He taught us how to win.” Read also noted another unique Moose skill. “I have never seen anyone who can look at a tangle of line in the cockpit and pick that ball of line up, look at it for three seconds, and completely untangle it.”
Gary Jobson, who won the America’s Cup, said, “I have raced with and against Moose many times over the past 40 plus years. He is a very focused, competitive sailor. He can also seem stoic. In one match race, we were in a tough battle. Moose was our jib trimmer. When our arch rival jumped the gun, I had to smile when Moose uttered, “ALRIGHT!” He’s human, like the rest of us, I thought with a smile.”
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Ken Read is quite busy as the President of North Sails. But when asked for a quote about Moose, he responds immediately. “Moose McClintock is one of the key people I owe my career to. Not only as a friend but as a mentor. He and I sailed a million times back in our successful J/24 days. What did I learn from Moose? A lot I can’t talk about…and a ton about winning and improving. We could win a race by half a leg and he would self critique every second of the race. ‘Never be satisfied, you can always improve.’ Thanks, Moose.”
Bill MacGowan has a business in Newport that creates stunning graphics for some of the most important yachts in the world, like Rambler. When he received the call to create the name and the graphics for the Moose boat, he dropped what he was doing and donated his services. He said, “I’ve known Moose since I moved to Newport 30 years ago. He’s been a fixture on the water, a great sailor, and he’s still out there making it happen for the Laser sailors and that’s awesome.”
At the dedication ceremony, host Mark Bear, a professor at MIT who has finished on the podium at the Laser Master Worlds twice, said, “How do you thank someone like this, the person who gives up his Sundays to freeze his tail off so we can have fun in our Lasers? If it were college basketball, we might name the court for him. If it is sailing, we might name a boat for him. So after due consideration, the fleet elders – in particular our leaders Jack McVicker and Peter Shope – rejected the idea of naming the new RIB “Boaty McBoatface” and instead have christened her “Moose” in honor of the guy who has given us so much.”
Joe Berkeley, a member of Fleet 413, is a professional writer and an amateur sailor. His work is atjoeberkeley.com
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